Time For Oregon’s NIL Collective to Toss Up Alley-oops of Cash

Darren Perkins Editorials

After two sub-par seasons, Oregon basketball should be heading into next season with some momentum. I was down on the Ducks after three starters were declared out for the NIT. It was a solid “what’s the point?” type of feeling. But, after two wins it is clear that the NIT has given an opportunity for others to shine and gain some valuable experience. While Mr. FishDuck was having fun with online slots that his friend did recommend at Slotsource.com, he also pondered this NIL challenge for the Ducks.

Next season’s returnees Nathan Bittle and Tyrone Williams, along with Rivaldo Soares (undecided on returning) have made the most of their increased roles. In fact, through the first two rounds of the NIT, each one of them had a game with a double-double and has the look of taking their game to the next level next season.

Kel’el Ware has shown signs of his tremendous talent, and here is to hoping he comes back as he is at least 2-3 years away from developing into an NBA contributor. He could really benefit from another season or two in college, but the allure of being a possible first-round pick might be too great to pass up. This is where Oregon’s NIL collective needs to step in and make its first power play on the hardwood.

That is right, Oregon’s Division Street NIL Collective. It is time to go all Bo Nix on Kel’el Ware.

I think after getting a wake-up call this season that college basketball is a much more difficult game to dominate than high school, Ware learned some valuable lessons about what it takes to become a top player. And, after a full off-season, I would expect him to develop into a force to be reckoned with if he comes back next season. But, we shall see.

Nate Bittle will be a big part of the Ducks’ strategy for the 2023-2024 season.

On the recruiting trail, per Rivals.com, Oregon has an outstanding 3 of the Top 40 recruits coming to town. (Though a bit humbling when you see that Kentucky has a whopping 3 of the Top 4 and 4 of the Top 7. Yikes!) Included are 5-star forward KJ Evans, 4-star forward Marquis Cook, as well as Oregon High School Player of the Year and Payton Pritchard protégé Jackson Shelstad.

For those who do not know, Shelstad grew up watching Pritchard play and followed Pritchard to excel at West Linn High School. The two are reported to be “really close.” Some pundits believe Shelstad will be better than Pritchard, and he is believed to possibly be the most dynamic high school player to come out of Oregon since Kevin Love.

Hopefully, Shelstad can hit the ground running with the Ducks and be the floor leader and go-to guy that the Ducks have sorely lacked since Chris Duarte left for the NBA two seasons ago. It is an interesting dynamic as a college basketball fan, selfishly we want our hoops recruits to be really good, but not quite so good that they become a surefire NBA lottery pick. If they are a top pick then by all means, go for it. But, with the in-between “should I stay or should I go” guys there needs to be something worth coming back to Oregon for. Hmmm….

Which, again, brings up Oregon’s Division Street NIL Collective.

Pairing the NIL collective with Oregon’s incoming freshman and key returnees could really be something to watch next season. It could be the classic Dana Altman style of starting out the season slowly as the team gels together, then really puts the pedal to the metal come next February and March to earn some of those big-time tournament payouts.

As they now say in the world of college athletics, it takes a collective’s money to make money.

Darren Perkins
Spokane, WA
Top photo credit: Twitter

Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the technology industry in SLC, Utah.

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